Thought Leadership

17 ways to increase footfall in your retail stores

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As a multisite retailer, it can be hard work to think of new ways to increase footfall in your stores. More visitors generally equates to more sales, so it’s vital to keep a steady flow of customers turning up at your doors. We’ve done the research for you and put together 17 surefire ways to help boost visitors in all your locations.

How do you increase footfall in your retail locations?

To increase footfall in your stores, you need to: make sure they are easily located (online and offline), utilise your digital marketing tools to promote them, provide incentives for repeat visits, offer helpful additional services, have enticing window displays and ensure great, memorable in-store experiences.

But that’s just scratching the surface! If visitors to your stores are down, or you’re looking to boost their performance in the coming months, we’ve compiled 17 ways to draw in more customers alongside some great examples on the high street. 

1. Utilise your digital channels

It sounds like an obvious one, but make sure you are using your website, social media channels, online ads and email marketing effectively to drive your customers to your stores. Share your special store-only promotions, in-store events and giveaways, or simply let your customers know what’s happening or new in your stores.

For added impact, localise your social media ads so that the content is specific to the customer’s location (geo-targeted ads) – such as “Don’t miss this in your Brighton store next week”. And, if you have the data, personalise your email marketing campaigns with the name of your customer’s nearest store, with contact details and opening times, i.e. “Your local store is X”. These small extra details really help refine your customer interactions. 

Another great way to drive foot traffic from online searches to in-store shoppers is to make sure you’re using location extensions in your Adwords account. This allows you to show local search ads with your address and the distance to your nearest store. For ultimate convenience for shoppers, show your stock availability with Local Inventory Ads.


2. Make finding your store as easy as possible

If you want to draw in new customers, you need to make sure it’s quick and easy for them to find your stores. Keep your website Store Locator up-to-date with all your store information, including addresses, contact details and opening times. 

According to Google, 88% of people who run a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week, so make sure your Google My Business listings are regularly maintained.

Finally, outside your stores, use an A-board to capture the attention of those walking by and think about introducing additional permanent external hanging signage or banners that can be seen by shoppers further down the street. Your store managers may also be able to see if your store can be added to any town signage or area maps to further draw people to your store.

3. Improve your store profiling

Without a detailed understanding of each of your stores, their local customers and their surroundings, it’s impossible to provide personalised and targeted marketing materials. Store profiling, or location management, tools, can ensure your window displays and in-store marketing is most effective for that specific location. 

Once you have comprehensive and accurate store data, you can adjust messaging based on competitor proximity, ensure your signage and displays fit perfectly in your store spaces and reduce costs by only producing the materials that each store actually needs. All help to create a polished and consistent in-store experience and encourage shoppers to make return visits. 

For more in-depth information about the benefits of modern store profiling, and how it can help you open up new opportunities and revenues, have a read of our free ebook: Store Profiling: The Ultimate Guide.

colateral store profile management software

4. Run in-store promotions & sales 

Recent research has found that 80% of customers are actively looking for deals in stores, and 36% of shoppers state that sales influence their choice of in-store retailer. There’s no denying it, well-advertised sales and great promotions can really boost your footfall (however, be mindful that overdoing discounts has the potential to devalue your brand). Make sure your in-store promotions are boosted via your digital channels and highlighted in your window displays so you don’t miss online visitors or passing foot traffic.

It’s also important that your in-store materials are installed accurately and on time – so there is always consistency with your online marketing. And, any missing or damaged materials are quickly reported and replaced by your store teams.

Further, entice online shoppers into stores by using in-store redeemable promotions in your email marketing or mail campaigns. And, finish the shopping experience by providing extra incentives for repeat visits with coupons at checkouts (or on receipts) that offer your customers a discount on their next shop.

5. Be an active part of the local community

Your local shoppers are your bread and butter. Even if your stores are in a tourist-saturated area, your local customers will keep your stores going out-of-season all year round. To keep them returning, show how much you value the local community. 

Empower your store managers to get involved with town or street events. Allow them to support neighbourhood organisations and charities and sponsor community events for further visibility. Getting your store employees to take part in fundraising events in-store, from sponsored runs and bike rides to dancing events, can pique customers’ interest, strengthen feelings of local loyalty and give your stores (and staff!) the feel-good factor.

6. Say YES to partnerships & collaborations

Some big retail players have seen great success with brand collaborations, from Adidas and Peloton’s ‘Capable of Greatness’ apparel and Disney and Pandora’s jewellery collection to Target and LEGO’s partnership. 

Collaborations can attract new customers, increase word-of-mouth promotion and split the cost of marketing campaigns. According to experts, collaborations between retailers and brands are most effective when you have overlapping, but not competing, customer segments. It’s worth carefully thinking about what – or who – would complement your business and wow your customers.

Even partnerships on a much smaller scale, such as cross-over promotional events or product launches in stores, can enhance the customer experience and be beneficial to both parties.

7. Increase footfall with events, events and more events

From ‘meet the author’ to sample giveaways, special product releases, and demonstrations, in-store events are a fantastic way to drive footfall. Who doesn’t want to try some tasty new products while you do your weekly shop? In fact, that great in-store experience may well be the reason your customers choose you over your competitor. 

And, as the example below shows, events don’t have to have anything to do with what you’re selling! You can simply use them to raise awareness of your store and help build your brand in person. The result? That familiarity, and memorable experience, means there’s a higher likelihood that attendees will want to stay up-to-date with your future events and visit your store when they’re next in the area.

8. Go physical over digital to stand out

So much of what we consume is online. Stand out from the crowd by sending out product catalogues or offers to your customers by post. Localise your printed content with the name and address of your customer’s nearest store and contact information. 

Also, try giving your customers physical printed coupons in-store (rather than app-based ones), as the tangibility can be a great reminder to return to your store to use them.

9. Make sure it’s social

We know the in-store experience is all about the experience, so make sure it’s share-worthy! Look at introducing a dedicated area, such as a feature wall, specifically for people to take in-store photos. Use any opportunities you can to encourage customers to promote your stores online for you – whether that’s posting shopping selfies on Instagram, using certain hashtags to enter store competitions or simply tagging their location – they all help to raise awareness.

Depending on your customer demographics, you might want to look at inviting social influencers to further promote your stores. Sponsored “Come shopping with me” vlogs on Youtube or “Shopping Haul” videos on Instagram or TikTok, all mentioning or showing a visit to a store, and talking about the experience and products, can help drive more shoppers through your doors.


10. Think outside the box

Another way to get people talking about and visiting your stores is to do something your customers won’t expect. From pop-up (or pop in!) yoga, to dial a story (as shown in the examples below), something unusual might be just the ticket to get customers to talk about your store (more free word of mouth promotion!) and make a return visit.

11. Give shoppers new or additional reasons to visit

You probably already offer in-store exchanges, returns, and buy online pick up in-store (if not, you should!) but give your customers more reasons to pay you a visit. Perhaps with a drop-off clothing bank, a new service or even another store in a store! 

Once you’ve got their feet through the door, your chances of selling them something dramatically increase. And, even if they don’t buy something, a bustling store helps encourage other shoppers to enter.

12. Choose emotive language in your campaigns

Using emotive messaging in your campaigns means they have a good chance of being remembered. Make a connection with customers, and they are more likely to care and share with people they know. 

Nostalgia is also a brilliant tool in helping to guide people to your stores. Studies have found that nostalgic marketing materials and store designs make businesses seem more trustworthy and dependable. And not only are nostalgic campaigns particularly effective with Millennials, research has shown that nostalgic feelings increase people’s willingness to pay for desired objects – win, win.

13. Use the weather to your advantage

This might seem like an odd example, but the weather hugely impacts what shoppers are looking for in stores. It also affects how they shop and which stores they choose to visit. With the right marketing tools in place, you can quickly adjust window displays and offers to draw in customers depending on the weather. 

Raining all week? Time to showcase good books, hot chocolate or, of course, umbrellas and wellies. Install some cosy lifestyle images on your posters to match! A sudden heatwave on the horizon? Sun hats, shorts, sunglasses, barbeques, ice trays and indoor fans are all at the top of shopping lists. Showcase those items in your displays and promotions to draw in more shoppers.

Colateral allows you to quickly and easily plan and communicate changes to in-store displays – so you can have reactive marketing across your whole store estate.

14. Provide great all-round experiences

From giving your employees thorough training to make sure they provide excellent customer service to minimising queues at check out – you want to offer a great all-around experience for your customers. Your stores should be clean, tidy and offer a respite from the high street. Across your in-store marketing, music, lighting and even the smell of your stores, make sure you can manage and maintain every detail to form an enjoyable shopping atmosphere in every location. 

Want shoppers to stay a little longer? Why not provide a comfortable seating area or a games corner for children (and grown-ups) to take a short shopping break? And offering free in-store WiFi is also guaranteed to keep your customers happy. Use it as an opportunity to see  if they want to sign up for your email newsletter before connecting.

15. Get feedback from customers and your store teams

You can only improve what you know. Ask your customers what would get them through your doors. Get feedback from your store teams about what would work best in their stores. 

These insights are vital in improving the store experience and getting more shoppers through your doors. Two-way communication between head offices and store teams (without email or phone calls!) can ensure your marketing is always installed correctly in stores, and your store teams can give you real-time feedback about your campaigns.

16. Market beyond your storefront

Update your windows every few weeks with enticing window displays to keep grabbing people’s attention. Regularly refresh your store displays and layouts. Your stock may not always change, but positioning it differently can instantly alter the store experience for customers. 

And, go beyond the window! Combine your displays with something physically in the street (if logistically possible) to draw people in, whether it’s an A-frame with an enticing offer, a person giving out tasters or discount coupons, or even a mini vending machine, game or interactive screen to make people stop and take a look.

17. Track everything

You can make endless changes to your stores, but you won’t know what is working without an effective analytics tool. As a basic KPI, you need to be able to measure the number of people entering your stores to see if your efforts are having the desired impact. This can be done by staff physically counting the customers entering the store using a manual clicker. Or, more accurately, by using people counting sensors in your entrances.

Also, in order for your sales comparisons to be accurate (i.e. before and after you’ve made changes to your campaigns), you need to guarantee your window displays and in-store marketing is installed accurately and on-time. Colateral tracks campaign display compliance and collates campaign performance, POS data and customer information to measure effectiveness in your locations.

Graph to measure visitors as part of strategy to increase footfall

Overall, refreshing all your stores and changing the way they look and operate can be a challenge across multiple locations. But, with some small changes, you can make a real difference to increase footfall in your stores.

Colateral allows you to plan, manage and communicate your marketing to your stores with complete ease. With quick and simple instructions delivered across your estate, you can make rapid changes to your store environments. Read more about how we help you to take control of your in-store marketing here.

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